Migration from French overseas departments to metropolitan France: What we can learn about a state policy from the censuses, 1962–1999

Young Author’s Prize 2018
By Marine Haddad, Beatrice van Hoorn Alkema

This article offers new perspectives for demographic analysis of four French overseas départements (DOM): Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, and Réunion. What are the effects of public population policies, notably those implemented by the Office for DOM migration (Bureau pour la migration des DOM, Bumidom, 1963–1981) on migration to metropolitan France? French census data from 1968 to 1999 are used to measure the size and structure of migration flows over time, as well as their scale, expressed as a proportion of the DOM populations. Using difference-in-difference regressions, this study assesses the effects of the policies implemented by the Bumidom. It shows that while the Bumidom accelerated the growth of migration flows, they were also fuelled by the socioeconomic gap between the DOMs and metropolitan France. Given that places in higher education and the share of high school graduates in the DOMs do not increase at the same pace as in metropolitan France, the rise of educational aspirations also appears to be a push factor. A comparison of DOM residents remaining at home and those who migrate to metropolitan France shows that since 1968 the latter have been characterized by a higher level of education.


  • migration
  • overseas department
  • Bumidom
  • difference-in-differences
  • census
  • longitudinal analysis
Go to the article on Cairn-int.info